John's Reviews > Glasshouse

Glasshouse by Charles Stross
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's review
Aug 22, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: conspiracy, dystopias, horror, sci-fi-ish, thriller

Robin is a newly arrived memory wipe patient. He's not sure who he used to be, but he can remember enough to know that the old him wasn't a particularly nice person. Neither is the new him. But he meets a girl and he gets a chance for a new start. They're holding a study that will replicate pre-singularity earth society and he can participate. It also appears to be a safe haven from the mystery men who are trying to kill him. Besides, how dangerous can historical re-enactment be? It turns out, very dangerous.

This is a fascinating read: Social commentary written as far-future pseudo-history. The assumed realities of post-singularity life include customized physical form, immediate restoration after death from stored personalities, identity theft (making you a new person or being), and memory wars (where customized mental states are used against opponents in order to create sleeper cells, brain-washed warriors, or other horrors out of innocents). For all of its advances, Stross suggests that the far future is no less divided and exploitative than our own. However, this is still a social commentary, looking at the social structures in our civilization and questioning their usefulness. I don't think any of the insights provided are particularly profound, but it was interesting.

I listened to an audiobook version, downloaded from the library. It was well done, although I thought the narrator's "feminine" voice grating at first.

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